“God uses chaos to assure me of Himself. I am trying to desperately love the one true God, even though I am so wired to run after other things and seek security apart from Him. I needed to lose everything to build a life on Him.”
Tricia Klay realizes statistically her life should have turned out very differently. “I believe the Lord laid it down for me. He said you are going to pursue me, and surrender, or you are going to die. I checked myself into a clinic in Toledo for six months. It was a time of healing and clarity. A time to address the trauma and hurt.”
“My mom is a drug addict, my dad as well. They were divorced. I grew up with my mom most of the time. She was abused growing up, with no money and living in inner city Dayton. My youngest memories are of my mom disappearing and not coming back." In fact it was a pattern. Her mother would get high for a week smoking crack, sometimes disappearing for days at a time. “When she came off of it she'd get really mean, verbally and at times, physically abusive, but the remaining two to three weeks of the month she would be fine.”
They lived with one of her mother’s boyfriends. When Tricia was eight years old she woke up and caught her mother trying to commit suicide. The relationship with the boyfriend soon fell apart, and mother and daughter were kicked out of the house. They were homeless for six months bouncing from one friend’s house to another. “Often we didn't have any food, or money. She didn't work. We moved around so much I was hardly going to school.” All the while her dad was in California in and out of jail.
They settled at another ex-boyfriend’s house about the time her dad moved back to Ohio. He set them up in an apartment in Centerville, which finally added a little stability to their lives, though he was scarcely there. “I know I am grateful to be alive. I often found myself in a car with my mom on a drug run, she was stoned and driving around.”
"At 13, my little sister Julie was born to my mom and her ex-boyfriend. From that point on it was just my mom, baby Julie, and I in the apartment. I remember my mom, high on drugs, would put Julie in her car seat. I would hold tightly to the door and beg her not to leave. I felt my whole world drive away. I was left alone in the house and scared and just prayed that God would do something. I was terrified she would die and I would be left alone, convinced she was not going to come back.”
In high school Tricia was invited to church with friends and found a welcome place in the youth group. She never told anyone what was going on at home. She had perfect grades, presented well, and became very good at looking like she had it all together. “My mom always threatened what terrible things would happen to me in foster care if I told anyone.” Luckily Tricia could get away from it at school all day, but she couldn’t shake the knowledge that Julie, her defenseless little sister at two or three years old, was at home with her intoxicated mother.
“I remember one day I got off the school bus and went into the house. I couldn't wake mom up. She had overdosed again. I woke up her boyfriend, the medics came, and she was gone for a few days. Julie was only three years old.”
The Lord would not let her mouth be silent any longer. Tricia finally decided her mother endangering Julie wasn't okay and told someone at church. “I think Child Protective Services was called. Julie and I didn't go back with my mother. We moved in with a family at church.”
In the subsequent court battle, her mom lost custody of both Tricia and Julie, but Julie was forced to live with her own father. “My mom was not allowed to be alone with my sister, but somehow they got around it by moving in with my mother.” Tricia looks down and sighs. She shakes her head. “I don’t understand it.”
“Looking back I made security and having a new and real family my identity and an idol. Everything in me was given to those things, almost a worship of it. It didn't help the situation that from the age of 12, I developed an eating disorder. Eating became my sense of security, my control amidst the chaos, something to focus on, a distraction. I even thought if I was smaller I might be more loveable.”
Her eating disorder eventually tore apart her new family relationships. She described it as a very dark place and not a healthy environment for anyone involved. She left them and found herself alone again.
She contacted the clinic in Toledo. Her months of healing helped her understand her value as a child of God, how to value herself, and her God-given talents. She applied and was accepted at Cedarville University. Tricia graduated with excellent grades and met her husband Caleb.
Tricia calls herself her own little kingdom builder. Thinking she was running toward God, she had pursued her own definition of security. To her, it meant a place where no one could touch her, a place she could not be hurt. She had built walls of safety around her because she says she’s never really felt secure. Tricia’s fort of protection was built with bricks made of good grades, peer acceptance, a hope of financial security, and a physical façade of having it all together. "I put myself on the throne in the midst of my fortress, convincing myself that I was running toward God. When if fact I was intentionally walling him out.”
Only now does she understand that God wants more for us. “We can't live in authentic community with other people, or with the Lord if we can't be vulnerable. My goal of being untouchable is not a good idea.”
Her mom is still living the same pattern of addiction to this day, and Julie, now age 11, is with her. Caleb and Tricia bring Julie into their home every month when this is going on. They are ready to actively pursue legal rights to obtain custody of Julie.
Tricia’s dad died over a year ago from complications due to drugs. He was not a Christian. She sees her dad’s death as an opportunity to wrestle with God and seek answers to her tough questions. “God uses chaos to assure me of Himself. I am trying to desperately love the one true God, even though I am so wired to run after other things and seek security apart from Him. I needed to lose everything to build a life on Him.”
“Psalm 16 verse 8: I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. At this point in my life He is taking a hammer and helping me cut out all the bricks. He reminds me to follow Him, to surrender to what He is doing. He is everything I need.”
Author: Carrie Kempisty